Artemis I Carries the Future of NASA with It

The Space Launch System rocket fairing with ESA and NASA logos on the launchpad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. The new ESA logo and NASA’s ‘worm’ logo will be along for the ride on the first full mission of the powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Of the six launches known to be scheduled to close out August, there’s only one – Artemis I — that truly matters in any real sense. The others will be duly recorded but little remembered in what could be the busiest launch year in human history.

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The Upcoming Week in Launches: Artemis I and Some Other Ones

Artemis I rocket rolls out to the launch pad for a wet dress rehearsal on June 6, 2022. (Credit: NASA)

The Wikipedia orbital launch page lists six launches to close out August. The big one, of course, is NASA’s Artemis I mission next Monday. The others, not so momentous but still worth listing.

Disclaimer: This schedule is subject to change without notice. Parabolic Arc takes no responsibility for delays, changes, additions or what have you. And, as always, no wagering.

Tuesday, August 23

Launch Vehicle: Long March 11
Launch Site: Xichang Satellite Launch Center
Launch Company: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)
Payload: TBA

Wednesday, August 24

Launch Vehicle: Long March 2D 
Launch Site: Taiyuan Xichang Satellite Launch Center
Launch Company: CASC
Payload: TBA

Saturday, August 27

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Launch Site: Vandenberg Space Force Base
Launch Company: SpaceX
Payloads: 46 Starlink broadband satellites
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Sunday, August 28

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
Launch Company: SpaceX
Payloads: 53 Starlink broadband satellites
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Monday, August 29

Launch Vehicle: Space Launch System Block 1
Launch Site: Kennedy LC-39B
Launch Window: 8:33-10:33 a.m. EDT (12:33-14:33 UTC)
Launching Agency: NASA
Payloads: Orion spacecraft and 10 secondary payloads
Webcast: www.nasa.gov

Artemis I Secondary Payloads

SatelliteOrganizationOrbitPurpose
ArgoMoonItalian Space AgencyHeliocentricSpacecraft will demonstrate capacity of CubeSats to conduct precise maneuvers in deep space by providing detailed images of the SLS’s Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage 
BioSentinelNASAHeliocentricSpacecraft will use budding yeast to detect, measure, and compare the impact of deep space radiation on DNA repair
CuSP NASAHeliocentricSpace weather measurements
EQUULEUSUniversity of TokyoEarth-moon L26U CubeSat will measure the distribution of plasma around Earth
LunaH-MapNASASelenocentricLunar polar orbiter will search for evidence of frozen water deposits
Lunar IceCubeNASASelenocentricLunar orbiter will search for frozen water deposits
LunIRLockheed Martin SpaceHeliocentricDemonstration technology to collect surface spectroscopy and thermography
Near-Earth Asteroid ScoutNASAHeliocentricTechnology demonstration of solar sail to rendezvous with asteroid
OMOTENASHIJapan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)SelenocentricSmallest vehicle to attempt lunar lander
Team MilesFluid and Reason, LLCHeliocentricTechnology demonstration of plasma thrusters

Late August       

Launch Vehicle: Kuaizhou 1A
Launch Site: Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center
Launch Company: ExPace
Payloads: Centispace-1 S3 and Centispace-1 S4 navigation satellites

Earth Strikes Back: NASA Probe Will Crash into Asteroid in 7 Weeks

Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The countdown is on for NASA’s first attempt to deflect an asteroid — a test that could prove vital in the future should one pose a major threat to the Earth.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Mission (DART) mission is 48 days away from its collision with asteroid Dimorphos on Sept. 26. Edward Reynolds, DART program manager at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, gave a preview of the mission and the role a Cubesat will play in it during the Small Satellite 2022 conference in Logan, Utah.

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NASA Commences Review of Delayed Psyche Asteroid Mission

NASA’s Psyche mission to a distant metal asteroid will carry a revolutionary Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package. This artist’s concept shows Psyche spacecraft with a five-panel array. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

NASA Mission Update

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have commissioned an independent review to examine project and institutional issues that led to the Psyche mission missing its planned 2022 launch opportunity, and to review the mission’s path forward. The 15-member review board will be chaired by retired NASA official Tom Young and is slated to begin work on July 19.

The review will study factors of workforce environment, culture, communication, schedule, and both technical and programmatic risks. Results of this study will help inform a continuation/ termination review for the mission, as well as provide NASA and JPL with actionable information to reduce risk for other missions. The board is expected to brief their findings to NASA and JPL leadership in late September.

This Week on the Space Show

This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

Tuesday, July 19 — 7 PM PDT (9 PM CDT; 10 PM EDT): Guests: Dr. Daniel Tompkins Bioplastic machines to grow greenhouses in space. Self-replicating living structures

Wednesday, July 20 — 10 PM PDT (12 AM CDT; 1 AM EDT): Hotel Mars with Harold C. Connolly Jr. Guests: John BatchelorDr. David LivingstonDr. Harold C. Connolly Jr. Is Bennu a rubble pile?

Thursday, July 21 — 10AM PDT (12 PM- CDT; 1 PM EDT): Guests: Lori Garver Lori talks her new book, “Escaping Gravity.” Give her a call.

Friday, July 22 — 9:30 PDT (11:30 AM CDT; 12:30 EDT): Guests: Mike Snead The USAF as an aerospace force and much more

Sunday, July 24 — 12 PM PDT (3 PM EDT; 2 PM CDT): Guests: Dr. Christopher Morrison nuclear propulsion advances, nuclear power, fusion and more

OSIRIS-REx Scientists: Taking Asteroid Sample was Like Punching a Ball Pit

Bennu’s surface was disturbed in three different ways: by the force of the spacecraft touching down; by the sampling mechanism, which collected material by blowing gas into its collection filter; and by four of the spacecraft’s back-away thrusters, which moved the spacecraft away from the sample site (marked with a red “X” in the second of these two images) and agitated dust and boulders on the surface. The image above shows the TAG site and highlights (red circle) a large boulder thrown about 40 feet (about 12 meters). (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

TUCSON, Ariz. (University of Arizona PR) — Asteroid Bennu, the target of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, led by the University of Arizona, kept surprising the mission team while the spacecraft studied the asteroid from a distance. The biggest surprise, however, came when OSIRIS-REx swooped in to grab a sample of material from Bennu and encountered not a solid surface but one that gave way so easily the sampler arm sank 1 1/2 feet into it within seconds.

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Significant Progress in NASA’s Lucy Spacecraft Solar Array Deployment Efforts

An artist’s concept of the Lucy Mission. (Credit: SwRI)

NASA Mission Update

From May 6 to June 16, NASA’s Lucy mission team carried out a multi-stage effort intended to further deploy the spacecraft’s unlatched solar array. The team commanded the spacecraft to operate the array’s deployment motor for limited periods of time, allowing them to closely monitor the response of the spacecraft. As a result of this effort, the mission succeeded in further deploying the array and now estimates that the solar array is between 353 degrees and 357 degrees open (out of 360 total degrees for a fully deployed array). Additionally, the array is under substantially more tension, giving it significantly more stabilization. The mission team is increasingly confident the solar array will successfully meet the mission’s needs in its current tensioned and stabilized state.

Further deployment attempts will be paused as the Lucy spacecraft enters a planned period of limited communications. Due to thermal constraints caused by the relative positions of the Earth, spacecraft, and Sun, the spacecraft will be unable to communicate with the Earth via its high-gain antenna for several months. Throughout this period, the spacecraft will remain in contact with Lucy’s ground team via its low-gain antenna. The spacecraft will emerge from this partial communications blackout after its Earth gravity assist maneuver on Oct 16. At that time, the mission team will have more opportunities to attempt further deployment efforts if deemed necessary.

On June 21, the spacecraft successfully carried out a trajectory correction maneuver, which is the second in a series of maneuvers to prepare the spacecraft for its Earth flyby.

MagellanTV Original Documentary “Killer Asteroid: Defending Earth” to Make Impact Thursday, June 30 on the Global Streaming Service

Credit: MagellanTV

From Director and MagellanTV Co-Founder Thomas Lucas, the New Feature’s Debut Lands on International Asteroid Day (June 30); Streamer Making Film Available to All for Limited Window

  • On Thursday, June 30, premium documentary streaming service MagellanTV will host the world premiere of Killer Asteroid: Defending Earth – a MagellanTV Original that investigates the history and probability of a catastrophic asteroid collision with Earth, and the pursuit of technological developments designed to defend our planet.
  • The new feature documentary’s June 30 premiere lands on International Asteroid Day, the United Nations-sanctioned day of public awareness on the risks of asteroid impacts. MagellanTV will also make Killer Asteroid available to non-subscribers for a limited window, beginning on Asteroid Day and ending on Sunday, July 3.
  • Killer Asteroid follows efforts by scientists to hunt, track, visit and project the future trajectories of near-earth asteroids, as well as new and continued developments in methods of deflecting or destroying incoming threats from neighboring celestial bodies. The documentary also chronicles our solar system’s most significant collision events, from the origin of the planets and their moons, to the impact that caused the greatest mass extinction event in Earth’s history.
  • Killer Asteroid was written and directed by MagellanTV Co-Founder Thomas Lucas and produced by Lucas alongside James Arthurs. The film is narrated by Matt Baker.
  • MagellanTV is an ad-free streaming service dedicated to premium documentary programming. Globally available, the service offers one of the deepest collections of factual content anywhere, with features and series encompassing science, history, true crime, biography, nature, the arts and a growing slate of 4k content. MagellanTV is available anytime, anywhere on your television, laptop, or mobile device. For more info, visit www.magellantv.com/featured.

Astronauts and Experts to Celebrate Asteroid Day LIVE on Thursday, June 30

This mosaic of Bennu was created using observations made by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft that was in close proximity to the asteroid for over two years. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

LUXEMBOURG, 21 June 2021 (Asteroid Foundation PR) – The Asteroid Foundation’s annual Asteroid Day LIVE programme returns in person Thursday 30 June 2022 at 11:00 CET [5 a.m. EDT/09:00 UTC]. After two years as a digital event, astronauts, experts and science communicators from across the world will again converge on Luxembourg to discuss the importance of asteroid research, missions, and advances in space-based technologies. The four-hour-long programme will vividly bring the solar system’s smallest worlds to life for audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Asteroid Day LIVE 2022 will be built around seven panel discussions that will tell the full story of asteroids; from the formation of the Solar System, 4.6 billion years ago, to the scientific work taking place today, and our future prospects as we begin to imagine ways to utilise the resources asteroids contain.

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NASA Announces Launch Delay for Psyche Asteroid Mission

This illustration depicts NASA’s Psyche spacecraft (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA announced Friday the Psyche asteroid mission, the agency’s first mission designed to study a metal-rich asteroid, will not make its planned 2022 launch attempt.

Due to the late delivery of the spacecraft’s flight software and testing equipment, NASA does not have sufficient time to complete the testing needed ahead of its remaining launch period this year, which ends on Oct. 11. The mission team needs more time to ensure that the software will function properly in flight.

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Tyvak International, a Terran Orbital Company, Completes Critical Design Review of Deep Space Bound Milani Satellite

The nanosatellite will support the European Space Agency’s Hera Mission

Milani scans Didymos (Image Credit: ESA / Science Office)

TURIN, Italy (Terran Orbital Corporation PR) — Terran Orbital Corporation (NYSE: LLAP), a global leader in satellite solutions, primarily serving the aerospace and defense industries, today announced its wholly-owned subsidiary, Tyvak International SRL, has together with its partners, achieved full Critical Design Review of the Milani spacecraft. A critical component of the Hera planetary defense mission, Milani will be the European Space Agency’s (ESA) first deep-space nanosatellite. Milani will also be the first nanosatellite ever to orbit an asteroid. Tyvak International is responsible for Milani’s design, build, and mission operations. In this exploration, Tyvak International is joined by an excellent consortium of European industries and research centers from Finland, Czech Republic, and Italy.

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Asteroid Ryugu May Have Originated From a Comet Nucleus that Contained Amino Acids Needed for Life on Earth

Asteroid Ryugu with north polar boulder (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu and AIST)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Sample analysis of material returned from asteroid Ryugu through the efforts of the Hayabusa2 Project Team are being carried out by the Hayabusa2 Initial Analysis Team, which consists of 6 sub-teams, and two Phase-2 curation institutions, Okayama University and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) Kochi Institute for Core Sample Research. This paper summarises research results from the Okayama University Phase-2 curation that was published in the Proceedings of the Japan Academy on June 10, 2022.

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Planetary Society, NSS Call for Full Funding for NEO Surveyor Asteroid Hunter

NEO Surveyor is a new mission proposal designed to discover and characterize most of the potentially hazardous asteroids that are near the Earth. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A joint-letter in Support of NEO Surveyor
National Space Society
The Planetary Society

As part of our ongoing support for the asteroid-hunting space telescope NEO Surveyor, The Planetary Society recently partnered with the National Space Society to urge Congress to reject cuts to this critical mission.

The project is facing a $130 million cut from its planned FY 2023 budget, which would seriously delay and disrupt the mission.

This letter to Congress reflects the high regard for NEO Surveyor shared by the two largest member-supported space organizations in the world.

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Europe’s Hera Asteroid Mission’s Takes a Major Step

Hera spacecraft propulsion module (Credit: OHB)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A key element of ESA’s Hera mission for planetary defence has left the facilities of its manufacturer OHB in Bremen – a major step in preparation for its eventual odyssey to the Didymos asteroid system.

The mission’s Propulsion Module flight model, seen here, has been delivered to Avio, southeast of Rome, where propellant tanks, thrusters and associated pipes and valves will be integrated with it. The fully equipped Propulsion Module is what will take Hera on its 26-month trek through deep space to the main Didymos asteroid and its smaller Dimorphos companion.

On 26 September this year Dimorphos will become the very first Solar System body to have its orbit altered by human action in a measurable way, when NASA’s DART spacecraft impacts with it. When Hera arrives at the asteroid in December 2026 the spacecraft will perform a detailed post-crash investigation, assessing the mass and make-up of Dimorphos and measuring the crater left by DART’s impact, helping to validate kinetic impact as a workable planetary defence method.

Meanwhile Hera’s other half, the Core Module, is also taking shape at OHB in Bremen. The Core Module will carry all the mission’s scientific instruments as well as on-board computer and other subsystems. The spacecraft will be completed when these two halves are eventually joined together, ahead of Hera’s planned launch in October 2024.